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Author Topic: [Nevercast] - Mechanics Reference  (Read 4482 times)
Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« on: January 07, 2011, 08:58:13 PM »

This thread serves as a reference for the Nevercast main thread.  Here, I'll be going over the actual in-game rules.  In particular, I would like members to make a critical analysis of the mechanics:
1.  Are the mechanics consistent, i.e. does each function within a subsystem rely on the same mechanical principles?
2.  Are the mechanics streamlined, i.e. a balanced complexity/calculation-time ratio?
3.  Are the mechanics dynamically balanced, i.e. is each option feasibly playable without creating a predictable pattern of best options?
4.  What would you do to improve upon any perceivable flaws in the above three checkpoints?
5.  Please remain objective in this thread.  I am not looking for personal opinions on what you like or don't like about the mechanics, only insights about their structural integrity.
6.  If there is an error not covered in the above three points, or if the language I use to describe the mechanics is unclear, please feel free to inquire about it.

For now, I'll elaborate on the following subsystems:
1. Core Resolution Mechanics  2. Skill structure and development  3. Combat
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2011, 02:12:53 PM »

Core Resolution

Skill comparisons utilize a dice rank.  The better your skill in comparison to the competition, the lower your dice.  Start off at a predetermined base dice (usually 1d8).  For every level of skill above the competition, lower dice rank by 1 (1d6, 1d4, etc.).  For every skill level below, use 1 dice rank higher (1d10, 1d12, etc.).  Both sides roll (opposition only rolls if an action is used against you).  In order to score a success, you must roll within the range of 1-3.  1=critical  2=moderate  3= minor
It is possible for both sides to get a success, but usually factors such as "speed" will determine a success for the subject with the highest value.  Example: Kanu Gon is aiming in a general direction of his opponent.  His opponent comes out of cover to fire at him.  Kanu Gon receives an aiming bonus of -1 and a +2 bonus to his weapon's maneuverability.  His opponent suffers -1 maneuverability for having to change his position before firing.  Kanu Gon's skill is 3 and his opponent's is 4 (1d10 vs. 1d6, then modified to 1d8 vs. 1d6 because of the aim bonus).  Kanu Gon rolls a 3 and the opponent rolls a 1 (both successes).  However, because Kanu Gon has the higher maneuverability, he gets the shot off first and wounds his opponent, disrupting his attack.
Also, modifiers affect your dice rank after skills are compared, so if you have 1d6 and your opponent has 1d10, then your -1 bonus is taken into account.
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2011, 02:27:46 PM »

Going off on a tangent with weapon attributes, these factors help to mold the tactical considerations for combat.  The numerical makeup of your weapon's attributes determines how effective it is in different situations.  For example, in a close range firefight where accuracy is hardly a limiting factor, it's best to have a weapon that allows you to shift position and aim very quickly, therefore it would be better to have a weapon such as a submachine gun rather than, say, a battle rifle that has a longer stock and barrel.  In a long range firefight, where a combatant is likely to miss his shot anyway, maneuvering speed isn't so important.  In that situation, it would be better to use the battle rifle because your accuracy penalties are significantly reduced, which actually improves your speed, in essence, by reducing the amount of rolls it would take to score a hit.  When armor comes into play, your characters have to make the informed decision on whether they want to sacrifice other attributes for superior penetrating power.  In a close range armored fight or with lots of cover, for instance, the choice to sacrifice for a higher caliber round would be fairly simple to make; the round may be able to punch through the car or a wall and give you a chance to hit your opponent that wouldn't have existed otherwise.
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Devon Oratz
Member

Posts: 75


« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2011, 03:41:41 PM »

Quote
2.  Are the mechanics streamlined, i.e. a balanced complexity/calculation-time ratio?

If you are using an Earthdawn style dice step system than IMHO honestly they are not and cannot be because whenever someone rolls dice they have to reference a chart which indicates which Dice Ranks correspond to which die types. You can minimize the impact of this on speed and handling time by making sure that modifiers never apply to Dice Ranks, but instead to the die roll itself. That should cut down on the number of times people have to reference the chart. I know you may already be doing this, I couldn't quite tell.
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2011, 07:48:22 PM »

It's similar to the Earthdawn system, but progresses in an inverted fashion.  I understand the point you're trying to make however, and keeping the dice system on the more complex end of the spectrum was a conscious decision of mine (the gradient of functional capacity granted by the system is greater than the calculation slowdown).  It's funny - when I actually made that post, I remembered what I said about the mechanics being streamlined, and realized that the disparity would get mentioned immediately.

Furthermore, I've also noticed the hit in handling time when it comes to modifiers.  I have a fledgling idea to simplify the process in the works, but I don't know if it's functional yet.  I'll update the thread once I figure it out.

Thank you for your input, Devon.
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johnthedm7000
Member

Posts: 58


« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2011, 01:02:37 PM »

Firstly, I wanted to say I really like what I've seen of Nevercast's rules and systems, but then again I liked the rules for your dark fantasy game, and it seems that both sets are pretty similar.

For clarity I think it might be better if bonuses and penalties are phrased as "+1 Dice Rank" or "-1 Dice Rank", with +1 Dice Rank moving you down one die size and -1 Dice Rank moving you up by one. It might be more intuitive to new players than figuring out what "a -1 bonus" is.
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2011, 08:36:45 PM »

Nevercast originally had its own unique system, but I had gotten overwhelmed by the amount of crunch I had to work on.  In essence, the system used for the fantasy game was a prototype to see how I could improve upon the system, which ended up diverging into its own game because I liked it so much.  So I decided to restyle Nevercast's system altogether using the fantasy game's model, which is much more streamlined than its original set of mechanics.

In relation to the dice rank effects, I had a difficult time wrestling with how I would present the model.  It made more sense to me to represent smaller dice values as lower dice ranks, and in turn to measure bonuses as negative numbers to represent the scale moving downwards.  This, I believed, would help players to memorize the scale quickly (I personally memorized the scale very easily this way as opposed to the other layouts, but I cannot be sure if others will).  Furthermore, I may reverse the progression of weapon attribute values in order to follow suit with this logic.  If it doesn't do well in playtesting, then I will take your advice and alter the progression logic.
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2011, 09:01:41 PM »

Grappling with Firearms Crunch
When I started work again on Nevercast, I realized that there was a big problem with handling firearms: it's a pain in the ass to account for every combatant's ammunition.  So, in order to avoid book keeping as much as possible while maintaining the integrity of combat, I've devised an idea to abstract weapon capacity.  This only made sense, as the system is intended to represent general tactics in combat rather than individual maneuvers; the fine details are simply narrative color.  Unfortunately, I will have to add another element to the system, but it is in my opinion that handling time overall will be reduced.

The concept is thus: each weapon has an abstract capacity value.  An assault rifle with a 20 round clip, for instance, may have a capacity value of 3.  The weapon will also have a capacity die per attack.  This means that single shot (i.e. firing shots one at a time rather than just 1 round for a full attack), burst fire and full automatic will have dice assigned to them.  So, when you attack in combat, you roll your attack die and your capacity die at the same time.  In the case of the assault rifle, the single shot may have dice rank 0 (1d4-1), DR 1 for the burst (1d4), and DR 5 for full auto (1d12).  When you score a success (roll of 1-3), your remaining capacity value is not reduced, but will be reduced by 1 if you fail and possibly by 2 for a critical failure.  Finally, I may have it so that a high weapon skill will increase your weapon's total capacity in order to represent your character's ability to conserve ammo better.
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johnthedm7000
Member

Posts: 58


« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2011, 02:08:31 AM »

I know exactly what you mean regarding the difficulty of figuring out how to handle ammunition for firearms. When you're dealing with weapons that can only fire 12 "rounds" a minute like a Longbow, or "fire, spend 3 minutes reloading fire" weapons like breach-loading muskets then it's easy. But semi-automatic and automatic weapons? Not so much-I've run into that very same problem working on my own game. Right now I'm sticking with the "shadowrun solution" of charging a set number of bullets per target for short and long bursts, with a cost in ammo per unit of area covered for covering fire but I'm somewhat unsatisfied with it, as it doesn't capture the chaos of combat all that well.

As for your system for keeping track of ammunition, I think the only problem might lie with immersion-breaking flukes of the dice. If Tsu the mercenary is stranded in the middle of nowhere with diminishing supplies and he's harassed by a numerically superior but poorly equipped force of raiders, who he repeatedly rakes with burst fire from his assault rifle then my first question as a player (and probably Tsu's first question) would be "how many bullets do I have left?" and abstracting it makes it difficult to answer that question in a way that preserves immersion. Of course you can always just say that "you have a handful of bullets left" to emphasize the scarcity of ammo that Tsu's facing, but what if that ammo miraculously holds out despite the odds? It might be jarring to players for someone's character who has been established as having only a certain amount of ammo to be able to continue such a sustained rate of fire because the dice decree it.

To make a comparison, it's like the first time you realized that by 5th level a Fighter in D&D can run around drenched in the fantasy equivalent of Napalm for minutes (with no penalties to actions taken while burning alive) before finally succumbing to the flames. It's like realizing that by 3rd level or so, a Rogue or Bard can with only a slight degree of optimization make a hated enemy stop in their tracks and say "You know what? I don't really care that you killed my family." with a single Diplomacy check. They're corner cases to be sure, but when something like them comes up immersion is broken. Just my experience though.

One thing I'd be really interested in hearing about is how you've decided to handle Abilities, the non-combat counterparts to Maneuvers. There are a lot of games out there that pay an inordinate amount of attention to combat without acknowledging that there are in fact ways of making other activities just as compelling and deep to play through. I'm really glad that you're exploring this design space, and I'd love to hear more about individual abilities for your various "non combat" skills. 

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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2011, 02:04:42 PM »

Hopefully I can calibrate the dice to make it seem like you're burning through magazines at a believable rate without actually having to account for the rounds.  In order to prevent ridiculous occurences of ammo conservation, the capacity values are generally low (value of 1 for a .45, for instance; you fuck up your roll, that's it - you managed to expend 7 rounds in the space of about 5 seconds), and the dice will almost always betray you in an appropriate range of elapsed time.  For example, your 20 round assault rifle has a capacity of 3.  The capacity die for full auto is 1d12, and since rolling 1-3  translates to 25% - or 1-in-4 - that means there's a decent chance you won't conserve any ammo at all and use all of your ammunition in 3 turns.  And then even if you get lucky a few times, there's also the chance to score a critical failure (expend more capacity than usual); a counterweight which should prevent characters from getting any abnormal amount of longetivity from their weapons.

On a side note, capacity will likely not be directly related to how many rounds the weapon has - this is to prevent large numbers, which leads to the book keeping I was trying to avoid in the first place.  If you have a weapon that holds a large quantity but also has a very high rate of fire, then the actual capacity value may be similar to a weapon with a much smaller magazine.
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horomancer
Member

Posts: 131


« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2011, 07:55:12 PM »

I got to say, I don't like the notion of rolling an extra die to compute ammo use. I don't believe it's lean, there is still some basic math with ever attack, and I'm going to get dice confused.
I can think of a solution or two for keeping track of ammo in the broad sense, but I'm at a lost as to how to compute it by the clip so you have realistic reloading intervals.
But between book keeping and a second sub die roll, I would vote book keeping. Maybe something like the battle rifle having 8 attacks before a reload, with burst fire using 2 attacks and suppression fire using 4. It's still bullet counting, but it's just a straight math and prevents the unlikely but possible infinite ammo commando that lays down multiple rounds of suppression fire without reloading.
Side thought, maybe have the users skill in firearms change the rate at which ammo is expended. For my example, a nub with a battle rifle will only get 6 attacks per clip and a vet would get 10 since they are more efficient at putting rounds on mark. might be just excess math though.

I look forward to more of your work, Ar Kayon
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2011, 11:35:18 PM »

Alright guys, I took the feedback you gave me into consideration and conceived of a second idea.  The new idea is to keep the abstract capacity values, but that your ammunition expenditure is directly related to your attack roll, rather than introducing a new die.  Upon scoring a critical success, you waste less ammo as a result of your accuracy.  Scoring a critical failure on your attack means you waste an extra point of capacity.  Also, using different firing modes, such as full auto, will always use up a fixed amount of capacity in lieu of the capacity die.

Example:  Kanu Gon smashes through the door and unloads full auto on the poor bastard on the other side. Full auto uses up 2 capacity.  Kanu Gon rolls his attack and scores a 1, meaning he stops shooting after the guy's head explodes (in post modern times, nastier bullets are used to compensate for stronger armor), so Kanu Gon uses only 1 capacity because he stopped firing once that happened.
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horomancer
Member

Posts: 131


« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2011, 08:05:53 PM »

Sounds more workable to me. I also like the tie in of skilled operators conserving ammo without any extra math being required. Kudos on that.
I forget, are special powers/magic/crazy future tech in the Nevercast setting? If so, having a similar set up for such special powers may be good book keeping. More skilled characters can do more with less, but can burn resources faster to get better effects.
hmmmm...
I see potential for that being a core mechanic of any action that has finite resources either in game, or on a meta level.

On a different topic, have you made examples of non-combat skill checks and abilities?
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 438


« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2011, 09:26:08 PM »

There aren't special powers or magic in Nevercast.  But yeah - I'm sure there are other things in the game I could abstract out in this manner in order to smooth things over and get the players/GM more into playing than micromanaging.  This, of course, provided that the integrity of the simulation is not compromised.  Who knows - maybe it could work for money or equipment.  I certainly would like to keep this door open if you or anyone else has ideas on how to abstract out any numerically *hard* values or resources. 

Also, sorry about glazing over the inquiry you made earlier about character skills.  There are a lot of fun things I want to do with non-combat abilities, but I haven't compiled a list yet.  First, I'll post an overview of how skills work so everyone can follow along, and then I'll post a rough draft of abilities I've come up with.
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horomancer
Member

Posts: 131


« Reply #14 on: February 22, 2011, 05:39:24 PM »

How will your system handle screw ups? in D&D terms, the fumbles.
I could see a hard core vet going down when a dud round stops his battle rifle from cycling. Is there anything to mimic this in game? It would seem odd to have it a function of the dice used (as in only possible when rolling a 10 or higher, so only on d10 and d12)
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